Thanks to Sunriver Resort in Oregon for hosting my family.
About 30 minutes from Bend, OR is Sunriver Resort. That makes it a 7.5 hour drive from Berkeley.
Sunriver is more than a hotel complex with restaurants and pools. It's a planned community with condos, houses, and hotel-style lodging spread around 35 miles of flat, paved bike paths.
The Village at Sunriver serves as a downtown area, essentially an outdoor mall equipped with a full-sized grocery store, numerous cafes and restaurants, and other tourist shops, including those that will rent you kayaks, bikes, or inner tubes.
Situated next to the Deschutes River, rafting, paddling and floating are some of the popular activities for guests at Sunriver Resort. On my family's summer road trip, which stretched from Marin County to Sunriver, OR over a one-week period, we had already completed a long paddling adventure just days before arriving, so we didn't actually do a river trip, but we checked out the boathouse.
We spent most of our time exploring the grounds on the bikes we rented at Sunriver's Bike Barn.
While the pool was great, with a toddler pool, a waterslide adjacent and a bar in the enclosure, and we logged many hours there, Sunriver is really an ideal destination for outdoor activity enthusiasts. In fact, it might be most ideal for a vacation with a large multi-generational group, with varying levels of interest in the outdoors, because some folks can read on the porch, while others put miles on their bikes, play tennis, or book a day-long river rafting adventure that leaves from The Village.
Like a cruise ship, there are many programmed activities around Sunriver, including ones where you can leave your kid for much of the day, but they all cost extra. You'll find tie-dyeing, movie nights, s'mores making, and more. This place could not be more family-friendly.
We stayed in a Lodge Village Suite (see it here) courtesy of Sunriver Resort and liked it so much we booked an extra night on our own dime. It included a kitchen and a loft with two beds, so we ate in our unit for breakfast and lunch.
Price: About $315/night for a suite of this size — 2 queen beds and nearly 1000 square feet — and location during the last week of August, which seemed to be a quiet period for summer. (Pro tip: Since our schools seem to start later than other regions, travel during the last possible days of summer.)
Our ground-level room faced the golf course, with enough grassy space of our own for playing catch or jumping off the porch railing, if you are so inclined.
For dinner, we went to The Village, which boasts a miniature golf course, bumper cars, and an array of bouncy jumper things. There is a little train that goes around, too, to keep you occupied (and spending money) while you wait for your dinner table.
On our last night, my husband and I made our kids pasta in the room, then left them alone there (they were 8 and 10 years old) for 90 minutes while we dined in the trendy restaurant in the lodge.
The rental homes, of which there are at least a thousand, no joke, are booked through Sunriver, too. The homes, condos and cabins are in flat wooded areas, still accessible by the network of paths, but further from the lodge. Many are a shorter walk to The Village. If you want to share a living room and meals with extended family, this is the way to go. But make sure to confirm that your house rental includes access to the pool if that's important to you.
One of the highlights of our Central Oregon road trip was a full-day adventure about 30 minutes from Sunriver called Paulina's Plunge. They take you away on a bus, give everyone in the family mountain bikes, and lead a gentle but fun downhill ride, including three stops at waterfalls and natural water slides that you can jump in.
We are not a mountain biking family. In fact, the requirement was that kids know how to ride a bike with handbrakes, and my daughter white-lied her way in (she had heard of hand-brakes), but we all loved it. It was thrilling and exhausting. The hiking from the bike trails to the waterfalls was more challenging than the biking, so this trip is not for seniors who are not outdoors-people.
While we were at Sunriver, I kept thinking it would be perfect for a cousins meet-up. United offers non-stop flights from SFO to Bend, OR.
Lodging, bike rentals and a horseback riding outing were provided to my family by Sunriver Resort, a Destination Hotel for the purpose of this review.